[the gift]

Who doesn’t like to get gifts?  Gifts let us know that people care about us, whether it’s Christmas or a birthday or maybe an anniversary.  It makes us feel special and loved.  We didn’t have to do anything to receive those gifts.  We accept them with no questions asked.

What if we accepted the free gift of salvation from God?  For those of us who are saved, we know that the gift is free, but do we live like it? Do we continue to try to earn God’s love and grace through our good works? Sometimes our good works can become idols. We might be looking for recognition and approval from others.  We might want others to think we are important.  But when we do this we are putting the glory on ourselves and not God.

God saves us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Nothing we do can save us.  God designed it that way so He would receive all the glory, not us.  Let everything we do be for the glory of God.



[amazing grace]

I had decided to choose “intentional” as my topic for this challenge because it is the word God laid on my heart for 2015 via the One Word 365 challenge.  But on Thursday morning, God changed the topic to grace.  I didn’t know why at the time and I may not even completely understand by the end of October but I will take any confirmation He gives me.

That first confirmation came on Friday.  I was able to attend the Extraordinary Women’s Conference this weekend in Roanoke.  There’s something about being in a coliseum with 10,000 women all there to praise, worship and learn.  To hear all these women singing praise & worship songs together brings me joy.

I bought my ticket in February and really hadn’t given much thought to who the speakers were.  I knew Angie Smith would be there but I didn’t check the schedule until I looked at the program Friday night.  It wasn’t until after the first three worship songs, which were all about grace, did I realize that the theme of this weekend was “Amazing Grace.”  All of the speakers touched on grace but Angie Smith’s talk really struck a chord.  She taught on Acts 3:1-10 about the lame beggar who sat at the gate Beautiful everyday begging for alms.  Peter and John pass him one day and he asks them for alms.  Peter tells him that he doesn’t have alms but that he can give him healing through Jesus Christ and the beggar is healed.

She shared how we ask the Lord to get us through the circumstances or outcomes of whatever holds us in chains, but we don’t ask Him to deliver us from the bondage.  She used the example of her fear of flying.  She said she prays on take off that God will just get the plane above the clouds.  And on landing, she prays that God will just get the plane below the clouds when she should be praying that God will deliver her from the fear she holds onto.

God showed us how much grace He has for us by sending His Son to die on a cross for our sins.  He has delivered us from the pits of hell if we choose to believe and follow Jesus.  There is nothing He can’t deliver us from if we choose to believe.

In her words, grace makes no sense…we don’t deserve it but oh to have the faith to know that God, our Father can deliver us from anything if only we ask.

And just because she’s so stinking cute I will share this…

 

[his grace covers me]

I’ve shrunk back in relationships, worrying too much about what others think of me and always assuming they think the worst. I’ve shrunk back in ministry, unsure of my gifts, unsure of my place, and feeling as if I was on the outside, mostly because I put myself there and kept myself there. I’ve shrunk back as a mother, letting my failures and insecurities lead. I’ve shrunk back in my writing, afraid to remove the protection I’ve placed around my heart, uncertain that I have anything to say and, above all, questioning if this is God’s idea or if it’s been my selfish idea all along. I’ve even shrunk back a little from God, holding parts of myself away from him.
 
What if I lived as if the gospel were true every hour of every day? How would that change things?”
From Good to Grace…Christine Hoover
I have spent the last couple of years feeling exactly as Christine wrote that. How did she read me so well? I think I felt a little validation that I’m not alone and that I’m not completely crazy.
So I started to think about what if I lived as if the gospel were true everyday? How does that change things? It changes everything. When I live my life as if it depends on me I will screw it up every time. When I live everyday as if it depends on God it gives me comfort knowing that He is in control. He knows what’s best for me. He has a plan for my life.
It.takes.all.the.pressure.off.
It all boils down to pride and fear. Pride that is self-centered, fear that God doesn’t really know what He’s doing and that somehow He needs me.
 
It’s about a lack of faith that Jesus died for my sins. He rose from the grave and sits at the right hand of the Father. There is nothing I can do to earn His love because I already have it. 
 
His grace covers me. 

[31days of writing]

It’s a daunting task. 31 straight days of writing. I’ve had problems writing once a month. There’s so much to say but getting it down on “paper” hasn’t been easy for me. Do I have anything to say that people actually want to hear? Will it make sense or will it leave people going “huh?”

Tack on the pressure of writing on one topic for 31 days straight. Again, daunting. But I’m going to take a chance and try. So what will my topic be?  A few topics came to mind but where I ended up is “Grace.”
Grace. It sounds so simple but it can be so complicated.  I have been reading Christine Hoover’s book “From Good to Grace” and I have highlighted almost the entire book. I suspect a lot of my writing will touch on what God is teaching me through her book.
So, here I go, a little scared but determined that God has something to teach me through this. Here’s to the next 30 days.

[what’s next]

Seasons change, not just on the calendar, but in our lives.  I now have a college student, a 9th grader and a 7th grader and I can’t for the life of me figure out how that happened.  I was just pregnant last week.  After 12 years serving in our church’s children’s ministry I stepped down this past May.  It has been such a huge part of my life that it was hard to leave but I know it is what God wanted me to do.   I love the local church, I love my church and I don’t have any intention of not serving in some capacity but it will certainly look very different than it has in the past.

I sense Him calling me to other things.  I sense that He is calling me to relationships.  Most importantly with Him but to really put people over projects.  To spend more time building relationships and making our home a place of refuge for my family and for others.

I sense Him calling me to a different place with Missions, specifically International Missions.  Not sure what that looks like yet but I know in His time He will make it clear.  He gave me an awesome opportunity to be a part of a women’s trip to Spain this past June.  It was life changing in a very different way than my previous trips to Africa.  This trip was filled with a lot of dealing with my stuff and He showed me so much in so many ways and through so many people, especially the women on this trip that blessed me beyond measure.

So as I ponder and pray over what He would have me do I will continue to enjoy this new season that He has laid out before me.

[365 days]

Today I turn 48. I don’t feel 48 and my kids says I don’t look 48 (I love my kids). I still feel like I’m in my 30’s, not 2 years away from 50!  We did finish the 10K last month and I will confess I didn’t feel like I was in my 30’s that afternoon but I digress…

This little guy came to visit us today and it reminded me of God’s beautiful creation and how He has a purpose for every creature.
We had friends over last night to watch “Mom’s Night Out” and one of my favorite parts is when they are talking about the momma eagle taking care of her babies and how peaceful she is just doing what God created her to do.  That’s what He calls us to do too.  So many times we drive ourselves crazy doing things He never called us to do.
So beginning today I will spend the next 365 days pursuing Him, asking Him to lead me to what He wants me to do, to lead me to be a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and child of the one true King.  I know He has many changes in store for me this year. He has given me a glimpse of some of them and I am praying for His direction and clear guidance.
I can’t wait to see Him move!

[change is hard…]

Change is hard.  I don’t like it.  Even when it’s for good reasons.  Even when the things that God is leading me away from are good.

I have spent the last 10+ years in church lay leadership in various ministries.  It has been an amazing ride and I have learned so much from others and through those ministries.  It has been fulfilling and thrilling at times.  There are so many opportunities that I have been given.  But there are times when it hasn’t been thrilling or fulfilling.  And let’s just be completely honest, church leadership is hard and sometimes relationships are strained because of it.

But I started to hear God asking me if it was fulfilling because I was looking for the approval of others?  Was I doing it so I could tell others how busy I was or how much I was doing for Him and the church?  Do I enjoy hearing people say “You are going to have so many jewels in your crown in Heaven.”  Is that what it’s all about?  Will I be able to stand up with all those jewels weighing me down?  Am I concentrating on godly works but failing to spend time with the One who deserves all the glory?
During the tough times what were my motivations for continuing?  Am I just giving up by quitting?  Am I blaming others for my dissatisfaction?

And the big question – was I really doing it to further His Kingdom?  I wish I could say I was doing everything for His Kingdom all the time, but the reality is that my type A personality likes to be busy and I like to accomplish things.  There is a sense of satisfaction in bringing a program or activity to fruition.  Especially if everyone likes it.  But the reality is that my personal walk had suffered.  The urgent had taken over the important.  My quiet time suffered, my relationship with my husband and children suffered and being totally honest again, those ministries probably suffered.

I am in the process of stepping down from my “corporate” church leadership roles.  In some ways it has been easy (and a relief) and in some ways it has been harder.  There are areas that I have invested so much time and energy and I feel “ownership” of them.  But those areas belong to God and only He owns them.  Not me.  In some cases I am passing on the torch to very capable hands but in others I have stepped down with no one to lead.  I am trusting God that He will provide leadership for those areas or He will show clearly what needs to happen.

So what is God calling me to next?  I’ll save that for another post.  But for now, I am clinging to Psalm 28:7 these days trusting and praising God for what He is teaching me right now and for what He has planned for the future.

 

[t minus 28 days]

Well we are getting close…only 28 days away.  We had a setback with so much snow that we hadn’t run for two weeks straight.  Definitely felt that this morning.  We hope to get a few more runs in this week if the weather will hold out for us.

[t minus 49 days]

So we did the unthinkable and signed up for a 10k race on March 28th.  We will do 2 5k’s before that on March 7th and 14th.  Here are today’s results…

It doesn’t feel like we are making much processing given only 49 days to get to 6+ miles but we are certainly farther ahead than when we started.